March 19, 2015 Subject:
Love from a Stranger:
I read the reviews first and then watched the movie, and I now feel the movie is one of the best in its genre and deserves to be watched time and again for the marvellous plot, beautiful acting and the suspense that grips you until the very end. A great movie.
June 11, 2013 Subject:
Love from a .......
Strange to see Basil as the love interest! Very entertaining.
May 11, 2011 Subject:
Love from a Stranger
Ah, the Writers!
Thanks to Laura for the heads up about Frances Marion, the Wikipedia article about her is interesting. According to the credits at the beginning of the film, the screenplay was adapted from a play by Frank Vosper, which in turn was adapted from a short story by...Agatha Christie! When it comes to source material for a suspense thriller, it is hard to do better than Agatha.
Nothing I can add to what others have already said about the quality and versatility of his acting. I read somewhere that he voiced the usual concern over being type-cast in discussing his role as Sherlock Holmes. He said he wanted to flex his muscles or some such, and try out different things. Unfortunately, he was given absolutely nothing to work with in the other films in which I've seen him. This one is different, and he really shows his stuff.
He is "the Vincent Price Vincent Price could never be" because Mr. Price brought a sense of humour to the horror genre that he never could totally leave behind. In a way, he was his own Seymore/Elvira/MST3K, subtly inviting the audience to laugh right along with him at the corny melodramatic tropes and stereotypes with which the genre is filled. Basil Rathbone, however, plays his part in this film straight and absolutely to the hilt, with the result that he is really scary!
Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed in the many short stories and four novels by Conan Doyle, is an interesting character, and much has been written about him—from his addiction to stimulation (a good case when he had one, and cocaine when he didn't), to his descent into apathy and depression when he had neither a case nor some coke, to his nearly complete disinterest in people as human beings, to his emotional detachment even when not working. Believe it or not, the same qualities that made Rathbone the unrivaled Holmes until Jeremy Brett came along, also suited him ideally to play this role.
This is the typical (even prototypical, one might say) portrayal of the psychopath as a deranged psychotic killer who is always on the edge of flying apart or breaking down. The argument that "it's only entertainment" unfortunately doesn't work, because this has become the public's conception of what socio/psycho-pathology really is, with the result that real world psychopaths and sociopaths (who are not also psychotic killers) go unrecognized (professionally, they gravitate to law, politics, and corporate culture) until they hurt lots of people—and sometimes, not even then. Writers like Agatha Christie perpetuate the trope because it sells books and movies, but they do a disservice when the public takes this image of the "typical" socio/psychopath for truth.
Part of the portrayal is accurate, though: particularly, with a charismatic (paranoid) personality (they make great cult leaders) and glib persuasiveness, socio/psychopaths ooze a (false) charm that is quite disarming, in the same way that Ann Harding's character is disarmed. Amoral and egocentric, they have a complete disregard for anyone but themselves, and can tell the most outrageous lies imaginable with complete calmness and sincerity. Their chief advantage is stealth: few people can believe that anyone could be so devoid of the qualities that make social life possible, even when confronted with such a person. By the time that most people realize they have been taken in by one of these, the harm is already done. That's really scary, so it makes great material (with a little seasoning added, like the psychotic killer stuff) for suspense thrillers like this one.
For anyone who is interested in this topic, it may be worthwhile to compare this film to another suspense thriller, Gaslight, the title of which has entered our lexicon as "gaslighting," and also to The Big Trees, in which Kirk Douglas plays the role of a greedy land swindler. Both leave out the psychotic killer stuff, and portray the glib and charismatic aspects of the socio/psychopath faithfully.
...is very poor with blurry picture and mushy sound, but it is still possible to see and hear the action. Filtering the sound through an equalizer with the treble boosted and the bass turned down makes it easier to understand the dialogue, even though doing that also amplifies hiss and other noises.
February 17, 2011 Subject:
A fantastic movie!
Slow starting but builds so that the last portion is a wow!
Since this is a public domain movie I plan on having my own copy. Right now I've got a copy from Netflix that is an Alpha Video. Yeah.
In a couple of weeks I'm getting the book "Witness for the Prosecution and other stories" that contains "Philomel Cottage" the source for this movie.
By coincidence in the same batch of DVDs from Netflix a Miss Marple story, "A Pocketful of Rye", from 1985 that has one of the actresses in this film and a granddaughter of one of the _other_ actresses. Joan Hickson who plays Emmy the rather dimwitted maid is Miss Marple in the later story and Salina Cadell is the granddaughter of Jean Cadell who plays Auntie Lou in this movie.
I'd love to see it on stage. Frank Vosper, who wrote the play, was the villain in the stage version. He was also one of the villains in 1934's "The Man Who Knew Too Much". He never saw this movie because it was released in April 1937 and in March 1937 he fell overboard on a trip back from the U.S. where he'd been setting up a stage production. His body was found near Plymouth, England (they'd only been a day away). After much investigation and media hype it was called an accident but nobody ever really knew.
Reviewer:Dr Feel Rotten
January 23, 2011 Subject:
Anne Harding thin?
She had a nice set of ..shall we say bosoms? If she were as thin as some of you suggest she would have also been really flat chested which she was not..nor did she have a rear end that looked like mine and mine looks like two door knobs tied together in an onion sack anymore. Whaddaya want? Some big fat lard butt playing the lead? I thought the very end they over did the dramatic acting, but that was somewhat fashionable for the time and we have seen it time and time again in TV comedies where they are portraying the spinster retired actress or whatever..
None the less this was still fascinating and I enjoyed it very much.
June 12, 2010 Subject:
i watched it
June 12, 2010 Subject:
Ah, the Writer!
Any screen play by Frances Marion is going to be of first quality. The dialog is intelligent, economical. And the ending makes quite the kicker indeed!
February 12, 2010 Subject:
WOW! What an ending!
This appears to develop as a fairly predictable melodrama and turns into a psychological drama with a powerful ending.
Basil Rathbone is flat out brilliant as he slowly reveals his madness. This performance shows how underused he was as a multifacted dramatic actor.
As for Ann Harding, the "thin?" female lead, I don't see any lack of nutrition in body OR acting skills.
The final scenes in the cottage are riveting.
January 5, 2010 Subject:
This movie is "ok".
It is sad to see Sherlock Holmes stoop to such low levels of behavior. If you're a Sherlock fan and want to keep your good impression of him, I suggest you skip this film.
(A reviewer here noted the female lead is "dangerously, bizarrely thin", but I haven't noticed this. Maybe because the picture is of very low quality.)
September 24, 2009 Subject:
Basil Rathbone is the Vincent Price Vincent Price could never be
I agree with slugs, sitting through this film in one shot would be a tough go. It's a good film, though, with some wonderful moments - especially as it comes to the climax. Features a very surprising performance from Rathbone.
June 28, 2009 Subject:
Just Can't Watch Dangerously Thin Women Anymore
I just can't do it. Great premise. Well made. But, the female lead is just so dangerously, bizarrely thin I just can't bear it. We've got to purge this culture of this insanity. The hatred of women is even worse now than it was then. Obviously, Hollywood has always shopped for abnormal people to put on screen, but this is insane. Somebody feed this woman!!!!!!!
Reviewer:slugs and urchins
November 23, 2008 Subject:
Is that you, dear?
Rathbone is excellent as self-absorbed plotter/murderer. The movie can be difficult to watch at one sitting but the acting is first rate and the drama is quite good.
He is so evil that it's amazing and when contrasted with the Sherlock Holmes character he did so many times it's a wonder that he didn't get to play more parts like this.